*”30 Rock” had an amazing run.
While the core cast is the main reason for its success—Tina Fey starring as Liz Lemon, Alec Baldwin playing Jack Donaghy, Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, Tracy Morgan as a version of himself and Jane Krakowski playing Jenna Maroney—another reason to tune in to “30 Rock” was its seemingly endless parade of guest stars.
While many of them dazzled, unfortunately, not all of them were winners; here are some of best (and worst) guests to grace the set of “30 Rock.”
Best Guest Stars:
Carrie Fisher as Rosemary Howard (Season 2)
Rosemary Howard is one of Liz Lemon’s all-time comedy-writing idols…who turns out to be pretty crazy. Howard is invited to write for one of the studio’s TV shows, “The Girlie Show.” Her role delivers a message about how humor doesn’t always translate from generation to generation. Fisher also gamely delivers an obligatory Princess Leia homage: “Help me, Liz Lemon, you’re my only hope!”
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gage Skidmore
Steve Martin as Gavin Volure (Season 3)
Gavin Volure is an eccentric, agoraphobic businessman friend of Jack’s who falls in love with Liz; however, it is soon revealed that he’s under house arrest for fraud and arson. If you missed comedy legend Steve Martin in this role, try and record the rerun on a . This is vintage Steve Martin buffoonery at its best.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joella Marano
Oprah Winfrey as herself (kind of) (Season 3)
After taking several “Comanaprosil” pills (“may cause dizziness, sexual nightmares, sleep crime”) with a stiff drink to help her through a long flight, Liz Lemon hallucinated that her seat mate was Oprah Winfrey. When Liz’s buzz wore off, “Oprah” was revealed to be a talkative teen.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user vargas2040
Alan Alda as Milton Greene (Seasons 3 and 5)
After years of not knowing the identity of his father, Jack Donaghy finds out (to his horror) that he shares DNA with Milton Greene, a liberal professor played by Alan Alda. Greene’s failing kidney inspires Jack to hold a star-studded charity benefit concert that included the Beastie Boys, Clay Aiken, Mary J. Blige, Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow and many more. (It’s later revealed that Elvis Costello donated one of his kidneys to Greene.)
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bridget Laudien
Buzz Aldrin as himself (Season 4)
A former astronaut on a sitcom? Automatically on the list! But seriously, Aldrin plays himself as the first love of Liz Lemon’s mother and does a pretty good job. It’s also hilarious to hear him “yell at the moon,” i.e. “I own you! I walked on your face!” Aldrin is a good sport and the result is delightful to watch.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marcio De Assis
Not So Much… Less Than Stellar Guest Stars:
Dean Winters as Dennis Duffy (Seasons 1 – 7)
This guy was like the gum you couldn’t quite get off the bottom of your shoe. Unfortunately, he played Liz’s boyfriend, so he was on the show a lot. He carried a beeper and used the word “dummy” as a term of endearment. Yuck.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peter Massas
Susan Sarandon (Seasons 5-6) as Lynn Onkman
Susan Sarandon plays a former teacher and current girlfriend of Frank’s who fell in love with him back when he was 14 and was arrested for pedophilia. While there’s no doubt that Sarandon is a great actress, this storyline is just too creepy to be very funny.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user David Shankbone
Megan Mullally as Bev – Liz’s adoption agent (Seasons 3 and 7)
While her nails-on-the-chalkboard persona of Karen worked well on Will and Grace, her guest appearance on “30 Rock” fell flat. Mullally plays a stern, tough, buttoned-up adoption agent that Liz is trying to impress. While the writing is great, seeing Mullally in such a stern role is somewhat distracting.
Photo by Flickr user Gage Skidmore
Al Gore as himself (Seasons 2 and 4)
While Al Gore is known for being stiff, he was downright awkward on “30 Rock.” His funniest moment was his parting line in his season two appearance: “A whale is in trouble! I have to go!” Unfortunately, he recycled the line during his appearance in season four. Lame.
Photo from public domain